There has been longstanding concern among physicians and policymakers that false-positive results may cause parents to believe that their children are vulnerable to illness, leading them to overuse health care services as their children grow older.
However, a new study from the University of Michigan's Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit, in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Community Health, has found that this is not necessarily the case.
When babies are born, small samples of their blood are tested for a variety of inherited diseases that could seriously affect their health. While these screening tests are typically quite accurate, they occasionally return false-positive results meaning a child tests positive for a disorder he or she does not have.
Using data from nearly 50,000 children during the first year of life, researchers compared the number of inpatient, outpatient and emergency visits made by 818 children who received false-positive results and their counterparts who tested normally. They found that most children with false-positive results did not have more health care visits than those with normal results.
"These findings shed useful light on the debate about parents' experiences with false-positive newborn screening results," says Beth A. Tarini, M.D., M.S., an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the U-M Medical School. "In future research, it will be helpful to learn more about what helps parents to be resilient to the false-positive experience with their very young infants."
There was one group of children who did visit the doctor more often: preemies. Children who were born prematurely and received false-positive results did have more outpatient visits than their peers who tested normally.
"Our findings about false positive tests for premature infants are something new for the medical community to try to understand," says Tarini, the lead author of the study. "We
|Contact: Lauren McLeod|
University of Michigan Health System